Self release coating episode

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In this post, I would like to tell a short story that reinforces the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention. This is where the smaller thermal spray coating houses differ from the larger, more affluent ones. The larger coating shops with their elaborate engineering staff, well-stocked tool rooms, possibly an in-house machine shop and a bottomless purchasing budget can certainly run circles around those that operate on shoe string budgets; but you know what, the stories that come out of smaller, leaner thermal spray houses are a lot more interesting than the mega-box type facilities.

In this regard, there was once upon a time a small thermal spray coatings facility that came up with the idea that utilizing the inherent porosity of plasma sprayed coatings, one could infiltrate with a silicone polymer, cure it and then use the resulting coating as a self-release coating that can be used in components used in the adhesive printing and adhesive handling machinery. This sounds like a good idea and so they started putting their heads together in developing this system.

So, for the plasma sprayed coating, they settled for NiCrAlY material such as those sold by millions of powder vendors. They made sure that the parameter sheet called for a little bit more of an aggression with the air jets cross over so that the coating will be little bit more porous in the range of about twenty five to thirty percent porosity. Then as far as the silicone polymer is concerned the best one that they could come up with was an ultra-violet light curable one part material that comes in a liquid form. This was to be sprayed with a simple cheap air brush gun available for less than a hundred dollars.

Then they started looking for ultra violet lamps and these things could become really expensive; the cheapest one that had any power whatsoever was about three thousand dollars. And so the developer got frustrated and dejected. But then if you are going to quit at the first sight of a problem then you do not belong in the thermal spray industry, right. As an old foreman used to say – if it feels too hot then get out of the kitchen: you do not qualify to be a cook.

After shopping for cheaper brands, the idea hit him right in front of his nose. After all the plasma gun puts out quite a bit of uv itself. Remember all those burn marks in your arms from standing all day without proper clothing? So what he did was to coat the parts: then stop: spray the silicone: then simply turn on the plasma torch and let it cure the silicone. The system and the procedure worked every single time and he did not even have to spend any extra money buying silly ultra violet curing lamps.

So the moral of the story is that we should always be having our thinking cap on and problems can be solved.

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